How hard is it to tell a story in six words?

As writers, we're always figuring out new ways to use words. Photo Source: My Heart Speaks
As writers, we’re always figuring out new ways to use words. Photo Source: My Heart Speaks

I READ FROM TIME TO TIME about flash fiction. I still don’t know exactly what it is. But I do know that it has something to do with brevity, and I’m all about brevity in the writing world.

Short sentences.

Short paragraphs.

Short chapters.

Short books.

When talking about readers, these two things are becoming clearer.

Attention spans are short.

Patience is short.

So my philosophy when writing fiction is quite simple.

Get in to the story.

Get on with the story.

Get the story over with, even if you have to end in a preposition.

I recently stumbled across examples of six-word sentences. I’m sure everyone else knows about them.

I didn’t. All I know is that Hemingway started it all with a six-word story that, he said, was the saddest story he ever wrote:

Baby Shoes. For Sale. Never worn.

The imagery is heartbreaking.

The six-word stories I found were pretty good:

Tanline on his ring finger? Goodbye.

One candle, unattended. Only ashes remain.

I leave. Dog panics. Furniture shopping.

  1. Human ignorance boiled the earth.

Last two people on earth. Gay.

Late. Speeding. Pulled over. Really late.

Home late. Doors locked. I’m caught.

Misleading deep puddle. Curious child missing.

Artificial limb, bungie jump – bad idea.

Writing a story in six words is an intriguing idea. It triggers the imagination. It twists the mind. It’s a good way to tease the brain and sometimes wake it up.

I thought I’d give six-word stories a try:

Fast cars. Fast women. Funeral tomorrow.

Love at first sight. Heart broken.

Wrong place. Wrong time. Prayers unheard.

I do. I don’t. Attorney richer.

First shot. Second shot not needed.

Promises made. Promises kept. Love remains..

She left. I’m alone. Whiskey sour.

Don’t kill me. I’m already dead.

Hot woman. Hot sex. Hot damn.

Man removes his clothes. Naked truth.

Forgive me. I’ve sinned. Door slams.

Dark and stormy night. Lightning strikes.

No rain. Raincoat opens. Flash fiction.

There’s one thing about six-word stories. They may or may not tell a very good story or even much of story. But they would make damn good openings in a novel.

We all have a few six-word stories in us, and they’re more fun to write than you might think.

So why don’t you give us the best ones that are crawling out of the basement of your minds.

One thing about it.

You have to make every word count.

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